Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 — ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Barbara! announces Buyepongo: Traditional sounds of Central America + Los Angeles Sonic Diversity = Tropical Cumbia Dance Party!

August 1, 2017

Warm up with free cumbia dance class before each show


  • Los Angeles- based group specializing in cumbia and Afro-beat music from the coasts of Central America
  • Three opportunities to see them for FREE:

Friday, September 29, 7 pm, Isla Vista School, 6875 El Colegio Road, Isla Vista

Saturday, September 30, 7 pm, Guadalupe City Hall, 918 Obispo Street, Guadalupe

Sunday, October 1, 7 pm, The Marjorie Luke Theatre, Santa Barbara Jr. High, 721 E. Cota Street, Santa Barbara

  • Free cumbia dance classesbefore each concert 6:15 – 6:45 pm taught by Rosalina Macisco in Isla Vista and Santa Barbara, and Ricardo Gabaldon in Guadalupe
  • Post-concert receptions with the artists
  • Follow VivaelArteSB on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more information and updates on events

Courtesy photo

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY — ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! opens its 13th season with Buyepongo – tropical cumbia and Afro-beat rhythms –  in free events at Isla Vista School, Friday, September 29, 7 pm; at Guadalupe City Hall, Saturday, September 30, 7 pm, and at The Marjorie Luke Theatre at Santa Barbara Junior High on Sunday, October 1, 7 pm. Warm ups for the concert with free cumbia dance classes starting at 6:15, taught by Rosalina Macisco, Director of Santa Barbara Dance Institute, in Isla Vista and Santa Barbara; and, in Guadalupe, by Ricardo Gabaldon Jr., Director of the Ernest Righetti High School Marimba Band and Ballet Foklórico.

With deep roots in South and Central America, Buyepongo draw heavily from the Latino musical culture. Taking their cues from traditional music of Colombia, Haiti, Belize, Honduras and the Dominican Republic, Buyepongo create a very vibrant polyrhythmic sound by seamlessly fusing merengue, punta, and cumbia. The group’s pulse and power is built around the drum and guacharaca combined with horns, accordion and vocals.

The name Buyepongo means “to cause a ruckus” and that is certainly the idea behind the band’s very original and distinctive sound. “Our music is going to get you moving and thinking,” says singer and percussionist Edgar Modesto. “It’ll break you out of your comfort zone and connect you with other folks and cultures.” Buyepongo is well-known throughout Los Angeles; they might play Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights in the afternoon an open for Ondatrópica at the Mayan that same night. Quoted in LA Weekly, Edgar Modesto explains, “We want to represent all of LA and build those bridges…” Buyepongo has performed in Grand Park, California Plaza, the Levitt Pavilion, Hollywood Forever’s Día de Los Muertos, the Music Center, and more, as well as touring in the West and Mexico.

The members of Buyepongo came together as friends in high school. After the original group split in 2010, Edgar Modesto and a few companions embarked on a life-changing trip through Belize and Guatemala where they became acquainted with the region’s Garifuna culture. Upon his return to LA, Edgar gathered together the core members of the current group, each of whom brings a musical and personal history that reflect the new sonic and cultural diversity that distinguishes Los Angeles.

Edgar himself grew up in Long Beach, started playing violin at age 10, and fell in love with hip-hop as a teenager. He has toured with multiple bands and collectives not only as a musician, but also as an emcee and poet, including a program that promoted hip-hop on Native American reservations. His brother and Buyepongo bassist Randy, credits the Richie Valens bio-pic La Bamba for his love of music. Jorge Valleo, who plays clarinet, accordion, guitar and sings in Buyepongo, works with youth and unify the community where he lives in Norwalk through organizing local recording projects, neighborhood festivals and social events. Sax and clarinet player Angel Hernandez, a first-generation North American from the San Gabriel Valley, has followed the inspiration of his indigenous roots playing clay and bamboo flutes. Keyboards and additional percussion round out the sound.

Buyepongo is active in social justice causes and regularly tours with “Schools Not Prisons” which promotes awareness of the link between programs and policies, and delinquency and incarceration. They were also part of Culture Clash’s “Vote or Die Laughing” pre-election variety show last fall.

¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! is sponsored by SAGE Publications, The Roddick Foundation, The Audacious Foundation, Anonymous, National Endowment for the Arts, Montecito Bank & Trust, Wells Fargo Bank, UCSB Office of Education Partnerships, The Stone Family Foundation, the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission Community Arts Grant Program, with funds provided by the City of Santa Barbara, in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture. Additional support comes from The Marjorie Luke Theatre’s Dreier Family Rent Subsidy Fund. The program is supported in part by the Santa Barbara Independent, the Santa Maria SUN, El Latino CC, Radio Bronco, Entravision/Univision Costa Central, the Hilton Garden Inn Santa Barbara/Goleta, The Kimpton Goodland Hotel, Pacifica Suites and the Best Western South Coast Inn. Viva is co-presented by The Marjorie Luke Theatre, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts & Education Center, the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center and UCSB Arts and Lectures, in partnership with the Isla Vista School After School Grant.


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